Dozens of volunteers gathered in the Green Bay Community Church auditorium on Thursday, March 14, to participate in the 27th annual Help for the Homeless Hygiene Drive.
Volunteers sorted and distributed hygiene products to a variety of Green Bay social service agencies. Ultimately, the homeless or others who don’t have the resources to buy those products will benefit.
"We are so grateful for Green Bay Community Church and their participation and all the accommodations that are made for us,” said Nan Pahl, the Brown County coordinator for the Hygiene Drive who is director of social services for the local Salvation Army. "As this drive has gotten bigger we have outgrown the previous church that it was held in. GBCC has stepped up. It’s amazing. We fill the auditorium and we take pretty much every inch of space.
“If we didn’t have this space I’m not sure where we would be doing it because the drive has gotten so large. It’s awesome.”
Many of us take for granted the items that are distributed, but not by those who receive it. “Those are things that are really looked at as luxury items,” Nan said.
In 2018 there were 216 homeless families in Brown County, including more than 800 kids in the Green Bay area public schools.
"All of us are working for the same cause,” Nan said. "We want to work to eventually end homelessness in our community.
“The drive is really about getting things to people in need…Our mission is to help those walk that path to greater self-sufficiency."
Nan said she gets inspired by the generosity displayed by our community.
"This is one representation of how our community is so generous to help those in need," Nan said. "That keeps me motivated. It’s an overwhelming response of the community that keeps us doing what we are doing."
Jen Schmohe, who oversees the anti-poverty Circles program at GBCC, hopes an event like the Hygiene Drive will lead to bigger and better things.
"One thing I hope out of this is that it will help stimulate bigger conversations around getting at the root causes of poverty,” Jen said.
"People need to be aware how hard it is to live in poverty and to understand the consequences in our community if we allow poverty to persist and we don’t address it.”
Items were donated at more than 100 collection sites around the Green Bay area. The most needed items included soap, trash bags, diapers, deodorant (unscented), baby wet wipes, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, paper towels, disposable razors and feminine products.
Here is a list of the community agencies that serve as Hygiene Drive partners:
Brown County Human Services
Child Protective Services
Family Services Crisis Center / Open Door Youth Services
Family Services Transitional Living Program
Green Bay Area Public Schools
House of Hope
Howe Resource Center
St. John’s Homeless Shelter
St. Vincent DePaul
Salvation Army Basic Needs
Salvation Army Transitional Housing Program (THP)